Skip to content

Maple pecan granola with Canadian maple syrup

2014 October 24
by Emily Hill

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for FitFluential LLC. Thoughts, opinions, and batches of maple pecan granola are 100 percent honest and all mine.

Did you know 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup comes from Canada, the majority from Quebec? I mean, I knew Canada was proud of their maple syrup thanks to that huge maple leaf on the flag, but 80 percent? That’s pretty amazing. Their maple trees must have some serious skills.


Pure Canada Maple Syrup 1

Mad skills indeed considering Canadian maple syrup is 100 natural (nothing else in that bottle, baby) and made directly from the sap of the sugar maple tree. The sap is boiled down 40 times—yes, 40 times!—to make the beautiful Canadian maple syrup you see pictured above and below.

I wanted to make sure you knew this was pure Canadian maple syrup.


Pure Canadian Maple Syrup

I know…the first thing that pops into your head when you hear “Canadian maple syrup” is how delicious it would be poured over pancakes or as a dip for your bacon. But it’s so much more than a topping. It adds depth to things like glazes, rubs and barbecue sauces and makes for some seriously tasty maple pecan granola.


Maple Pecan Granola with pure Canadian maple syrup #FitMaple


I’m not kidding when I say this maple pecan granola is yummy. I should know because I totally had a bowl of it after the photo shoot. And it’s healthy to boot thanks to Candian maple syrup being the only sweetener. And because that sweetener is unprocessed, it contains vitamins and minerals like manganese, riboflavin, zinc and potassium not to mention 54 different antioxidant compounds.

Way to fight those free radicals, Canadian maple trees!

To learn morea bout Canadian maple syrup, visit PureCanadaMaple.com. You’ll discover some pretty cool facts about their pure maple syrup and find some tasty maple syrup recipes like an all-natural maple sports drink and chestnut, mushroom and maple quinoa.

WAIT! I almost forgot maple water! I just discovered maple water is basically maple sap, the clear liquid that flows naturally through sugar maple trees. Like its syrup counterpart, maple water is chock full of the electrolytes, minerals and antioxidants naturally occurring in sugar maple trees. Plus it’s naturally low in sugar and has only 20 calories per serving (half the calories of coconut water), making it healthy and refreshing. Mixologists (gosh, I love that word!) use pure maple water in ice cubes and cocktails and chefs like to use it in marinades, soups, ice creams and sorbets.

I wonder what maple water ice cubes would taste like in Diet Coke? I may need to try it!

Printable recipe for maple pecan granola below.

Maple Pecan Granola
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Pure Canadian maple syrup is the secret to the rich flavor of this maple pecan granola. Super easy and super delicious! Throw in a handful of raisins for added texture and flavor.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup ground flax seed
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • ⅔ cup pure Canadian maple syrup
  • 1 tsp maple extract
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix oats, pecans, walnuts, flax seed and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk canola oil, maple syrup, maple extract and salt together in a small bowl. Pour over oat mixture and stir until oats are thoroughly coated.
  4. Spread the granola evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. Cool completely before breaking into chunks and storing in an airtight container.


ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

Super easy chicken noodle soup

2014 October 21
by Emily Hill

This is a super easy chicken noodle soup recipe but let me clarify.

By “super easy” I mean “not as easy as opening a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup but easier than using a recipe that requires from-scratch chicken stock and the cooking and shredding of chicken breasts.”


Easy chicken noodle soup yet so full of flavor. Rotisserie chicken gives it a delicious roast chicken flavor.


Basically this super easy chicken noodle soup recipes is one of the easiest homemade chicken noodle soup recipes you can make and it’s full of yummy roast chicken flavor, chunks of tender carrots and celery and al dente pasta noodles (whole wheat if you love whole wheat pasta as much as I do). Feel free to tweak the amount of garlic and thyme according to taste. I think next time I make it, I will throw in a bit more salt and pepper.


Easy chicken noodle soup yet so full of flavor. Rotisserie chicken gives it a delicious roast chicken flavor.


I find this soup—and pretty much all soups—taste even better when served with a side of rolls like this closely guarded dinner roll recipe.

You’re gonna have to trust me on this one.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Super Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Main dish
Cuisine: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A hearty homemade chicken noodle soup recipe that is both easy and packed with flavor.
Ingredients
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1½ tsp)
  • 2 medium carrots, cut diagonally in ½-inch-thick slices
  • 2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, cut in ½-inch-thick slices
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts chicken stock (or broth)
  • 1 (13-oz) package whole wheat rotini
  • 1½ cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Place a soup pot over medium heat and add oil. Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes until vegetables are tender but before onion brownes.
  2. Slowly pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 7 to 9 minutes or until al dente.
  3. Fold in chicken and continue to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until heated through; season with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf and sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Here are some other delicious homemade soup recipes perfect for chillier weather.


Mom's chicken tortilla soup


Mom’s chicken tortilla soup

Zupas Wisconsin cauliflower soup


Cafe Zupas Wisconsin cauliflower soup

Homemade minestrone soup


Sniffle-friendly minestrone soup

Chicken taco soup


Slow cooker chicken taco soup

If you love homemade soup, check out my “soup recipes” Pinterest board. It’s full of all kinds of slurp-worthy soups.

Follow Emily Hill’s board soup recipes on Pinterest.

ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

What to give (and what not to give) instead of Halloween candy

2014 October 16
by Emily Hill

Don’t get me wrong. I love all the mini Twix, bite-size Kit-Kat and full-size Snickers my kids bring home after trick-or-treating. But I can buy those any time of year. (Of course they’re half off the day after Halloween. And Christmas. And Valentine’s Day. And Easter.) What I really love are the creative alternatives to Halloween candy I see floating around the school parties and in my kids’ trick-or-treat bags.

And none of them require pipe cleaners, scrapbook paper and hot glue.


What to Give - and What NOT to Give - Instead of Halloween Candy


This year instead of Halloween candy, try passing out something a little different…a little less Laffy Taffy-ish. Here are some great ideas thanks to  a bit of brainstorming with the family.

Okay, it was just Madison and Nathan because Lauren and the others were already in bed but I think we did a pretty good job.

If you still want to give out food, try:

  • Homemade popcorn balls (these may get tossed for being suspicious but they’re so yummy)
  • Mini bags of Goldfish crackers or pretzels
  • Juice boxes
  • 100-calorie snack packs
  • Bottled water (to wash down all the candy)
  • Bags of microwave popcorn (see “according to moms…” section below)
  • Drink flavor packets
  • Coupons for free treats (e.g., Chick-fil-A sandwich, ice cream cone)


 If you’d rather give out toys, try:

  • Glow bracelets or glow sticks (thank you, Sari, for this idea!)
  • Bouncy balls
  • Mini coloring books
  • Spider rings
  • Tattoos (fake, not real)
  • Vampire teeth (also fake, not real)
  • Wax lips (just don’t leave them in the sun on the seat of a red tricycle)
  • Mini containers of play dough (although this is kind of a mean thing to do parents)
  • Bubbles (always a good option)
  • Cool bendy straws
  • Pinwheels (always a hit)
  • Small kaleidoscopes
  • Paddle balls


If you’d rather give out fun-yet-practical items, try:

  • Pencils (make sure they’re festive)
  • Bookmarks (make sure they’re cool)
  • Crayons
  • Sharpie markers (hahahahaha…totally kidding!)
  • Mini flashlight
  • Mini compass (so you can send the kids out on their own next year)
  • Holiday books
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Stickers (this may be considered a toy but this list was shorter)


According to my kids, you should NOT give out:

  • Fruit
  • Organic fruit & nut bars
  • Mini boxes of raisins
  • Toothbrushes
  • Floss
  • Anything to do with dental health
  • Anything other than a king-size candy bar
  • Anything less than a $5 bill


According to moms, you should NOT give out:

  • Noisemakers like kazoos and whistles and yes, even wind-up toys (not enough Diet Coke in the world)
  • Silly Putty or slime (always ends up ground into the carpet)
  • Mini slinky (always end up twisted)
  • Yo-yos (they can never figure them out)
  • Parachute guys (they’re good for only one jump…if that)
  • Ink stamps (you will find them on more than paper)
  • Bags of microwave popcorn (it’s always movie theater butter and it always ends up smeared all over the couch)

 

If you’re looking for some ideas as to how to handle the candy haul your kids are sure to bring home, check out our nifty ticket system. My kids love it and it’s super easy to manage.

Good thing I get unlimited tickets.

For some other fun Halloween ideas, check out my Halloween boards on Pinterest. You’ll find them at the top of the page!

Visit Emily Hill’s profile on Pinterest.

ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

Soft & chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

2014 October 14
by Emily Hill

I’m not going to say much about these soft and chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies but here’s what you should know:

  • They got rave reviews at October’s PTA meeting. And everyone had at least three including our super fit, super healthy PTA president. No lie.
  • The recipe calls for Pillsbury Moist Supreme Perfectly Pumpkin Premium Cake Mix (the same cake mix in this fabulous pumpkin bundt cake). The mix is available August through January, so stock up when you find it.
  • The secret is cream cheese. Crazy, right?


If you’re going to make them, you may want to double the batch so you have enough to “boo” the neighbors AND indulge in some late-night snacking.

Not that I ever eat cookies after 10:00 p.m. or anything.


Soft and chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies


Printable recipe for soft and chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies below.

Soft & Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
When everyone at your monthly PTA meeting eats at least three cookies, you know the recipe is a good one. Just sayin'.
Ingredients
  • 1 (15.25-oz) package Pillsbury Perfectly Pumpkin cake mix
  • ½ cup salted butter, softened
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat butter, vanilla, egg and cream cheese until fluffy (about 2 to 3 minutes).
  3. Add cake mix and beat until combined.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto nonstick cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until just set.
  6. Cool 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Notes
The Perfectly Pumpkin cake mix is available only August to January so stock up!

If you love all things pumpkin, check out my “fall is in the air” Pinterest board. It’s full of all kinds of fall goodies (baked and crafted).

Follow Emily Hill’s board fall is in the air on Pinterest.

ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

Super adorable (mostly no-sew) homemade Halloween costumes

2014 October 9
by Emily Hill

This post is totally for you, dear readers. You would be hard pressed to find me putting together homemade Halloween costumes even if it were of the “no sew” variety. Don’t get me wrong. I find them utterly and totally adorable, especially the owl costume (my favorite). I just don’t find myself utterly and totally homemade Halloween costume material. But many of you are, so here’s a collection of my favorite homemade costumes I’ve seen floating around the Interweb.


15 Homemade Halloween Costumes

Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds costume
I might make a grownup version of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” costume from Simple Simon and Company.

photobooth strip costume
I’m loving this photobooth strip costume from Oh Happy Day.

owl Halloween costume
This owl Halloween costume from Darling Darleen is probably my favorite.

lumberjack costume
George would look so handsome in this lumberjack costume from Make It & Love It.

DIY tooth fairy costume
And Livi would love this DIY tooth fairy costume from 235 Designs.

garden gnome Halloween costume
I need another baby just so I can dress him up like a garden gnome thanks to Adventure in a Box.

no sew olaf costume
How adorable is this no sew Olaf costume from Crazy Little Projects?

no sew pumpkin tutu
Every little girl needs a no sew pumpkin tutu from Craft Passion.

DIY LEGO Movie costume
We’re fans of The LEGO Movie so this DIY LEGO Movie costume from Here Comes the Sun is a hit!

easy tin man costume
This easy tin man costume from Simply Kierste is one of my favorite from this year.

Boxtroll Halloween costume
This boxtroll costume from Red Ted Art is probably the easiest out of the bunch but no less cute.

homemade jellyfish costume
Hard to believe this jellyfish costume from Giggles Galore takes only 10 minutes!

DIY pineapple no sew baby costume
This DIY pineapple no-sew baby costume from Lines Across is crazy cute (so my teenagers would say).

felt monarch butterfly wings
How easy and beautiful are these felt monarch butterfly wings from Buggy and Buddy?

candy corn homeamde Halloween costume
This super simple yet super “sweet” candy corn costume from Duke & Duchesses makes me super happy.

If you’re like me and aren’t interested in handcrafting Halloween costumes this season, check out these awesome superhero costumes (Wonder Woman included) and Disney princess costumes I found on eBay. They’re amazing and affordable!


ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

We’d live off chips, salsa and guacamole if we could

2014 October 7
by Emily Hill

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Kroger PeakFection. Thoughts, opinions, and delicious salsa are 100 percent honest and all mine.

Actually, we probably could. Salsa has tomatoes, which are good for you. And guacamole has avocados, which are also good for you. So that’s lots of veggies, which means lots of vitamins. The chips are usually made with corn, so that counts as a veggie too. I’m pretty sure I should now make chips with a side of salsa and guac a weekly meal (outside Taco Tuesday).

About half the time I try to make my fire-roasted salsa and homemade guacamole, and the other half we go with store bought. What can I say? I like convenience and fresh, store-bought salsa and guacamole can really hit the spot. One of my newest discoveries is the PeakFection line from Kroger (or Smith’s if you’re in the UT). I’m really glad they sent our family a sample of both their salsa and guac because it’s really, really yummy.


PeakFection from Kroger - fresh salsa and guacamole

We had a family party for my birthday and the salsa and guacamole was inhaled in record time.


PeakFection from Kroger - yummy fresh salsa and guacamole

Of course, no one got to touch it until I took the photos. Nathan snapped this behind-the-scenes shot and posted it on Instagram without my knowledge.


emihill on Instagram

Sometimes when you’re making a meal like enchiladas or tacos, the last thing you want to do—or the last thing you remember to do—is make the salsa and guacamole. For that reason, keeping a package of each on hand in the fridge can be a Taco Tuesday lifesaver. Plus PeakFection uses fresh ingredients captured at the “peak of perfection” and a special cold-water process so they stay fresher longer. I had those packages in the fridge for a good couple weeks before we used them and they tasted as fresh as if they were made hours before.

PeakFection offers five (yes, five!) salsas (red in three spice levels, roasted in two spice levels) and two flavors of guacamole (traditional and spicy). As great as they are with chips, you can also use them to add a fresh and flavorful touch to lots of dishes.

Try PeakFection guacamole:

  • Atop burgers or hot dogs
  • On your favorite chicken, tuna or egg salad recipe
  • As a healthy substitute for mayo on sandwiches


Use PeakFection salsa:

  • To spice up chicken leftovers
  • As an addition to your breakfast burritos
  • In place of ketchup


You know what else PeakFection salsa and guacamole would be good with? Mexican lasagna.


Mexican lasagna


Or Cafe Rio sweet pork tacos.


Cafe Rio Pork Tacos


Or maybe cilantro garlic chicken quesadillas.


Cilantro garlic chicken quesadillas


I bet PeakFection would be super yummy on these crock pot chicken tacos. Go, Taco Tuesday!


Crock pot chicken tacos

What is your favorite way to eat salsa and/or guacamole?


ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.

It’s like a symphony . . . and yes, it’s glorious

2014 October 3
by Emily Hill

I don’t know if you’ve heard but there’s a new movie coming out. It’s called Meet the Mormons.

Six ordinary individuals. Six extraordinary stories.

Meet the Mormons gives audiences a glimpse into the lives of six Latter-day Saints who live all over the world, from the U.S. to Nepal. They share their cultures, their challenges, their triumphs and their faith. I’m intrigued…and not because I’m Mormon. In a world where all news seems to be bad news, extraordinary stories are a welcome respite.

Or maybe I just want to see the movie because I’m in love with David Archuleta’s new song, “Glorious.”


These words speak to the soul no matter the faith:

There are times when you might feel aimless
You can’t see the places where you belong
But you will find that there is a purpose
It’s been there within you all along and when you’re near it
You can almost hear it

It’s like a symphony just keep listenin’
And pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it’s glorious


“Glorious” echoes the sentiments I shared in my post about being brave and beautiful.


What God Intended for You quote


YOU are brave.

YOU are beautiful.

YOU have a purpose.

And yes, it is glorious.


ps post script

Feel free to “like” is this REALLY my life? on Facebook. It won’t always earn you an extra entry in a giveaway but it will give you warm fuzzies.

Don’t forget to sign up for free is this REALLY my life? updates via RSS or email so you don’t miss a single awesome post.